Cherish What Your Body Can Do
A chosen focus this past week has been to cherish and own what my body can DO as opposed to what my body cannot do yet or what it actually looks like. I have realised that running and exercising my body gifts to me the innocent joy of re-inhabiting my body in an emotionally safe way, feeling strong and empowered. Those who regularly follow my blog posts here will know that I have experienced rape and sexual abuse and even though the final assault was nearly 25 years ago, my body still remembers. Running gifts to me a longed for break from the aftermath and residual damage from having experienced this trauma and I am grateful for that. Running helps me feel whole again, leaving behind feelings of being damaged, defective and not enough. Learning to inhabit and be consciously present in my own skin when running opens the window for other feelings within to make their presence known and give me the opportunity to believe that I can grant to myself the safety to experience them and allow my body to be the channel. For a long time it was too traumatic and overwhelming and I would have just smothered those feelings back down with food, horsing on over 9 stone in the process, the feeling of being numb being perceived as being safer and easier to cope with than allowing ignored feelings and sensations to overwhelm me. Running frees my body from being on-guard and on high alert constantly in my surroundings, helping me to relax my hyper-vigilance, leaving me free instead to cherish and celebrate what my body can do. Running helps me to reignite my spiritual and physical presence in my own life, helping me to to heal, to work my way back to myself, to reclaim my body for me and to cherish what it can do.
Monday 25th January – Tonight’s running session with Adrenaline Running Club is exhilarating and challenging as always but fun too. We are set the task of running 2 minutes easy, 1 minute hard, 30 seconds walk for twenty minutes altogether and with a quick water break half way through. I am delighted that my pace for the first half is 11:52/mi and am obviously well battered in the second half by slowing to a pace of 14:07/mi. I’m well aware that I’m as slow as a middle-aged turtle but that doesn’t bother me much as once I can see progress every week that is the main thing. Knowing also that as the pounds fall off as I work towards a healthy weight, that the lighter I am the quicker I can run so that is a great incentive to behave with my food choices.
Wednesday 27th January – It’s cold out tonight and I no more want to set foot outside the house, never mind go out running and cherish what my body can do. I turn up anyway as I know I will feel better once I start to run and knowing everyone else is making an effort to show up motivates me to rock up to the running track. As usual we warm up first with resistance bands and some running drills. We gather on the track to run (300m at a slow jogging pace, then 100m walking, 300m quicker running pace, then 100m walking, 300m harder running pace, then 100m walking) for 10 minutes, with a short water break and then back out to repeat again for another 10 minutes. My first 10 minutes are 11:59/mi and my second are 13:44/mi which is great as is a faster pace in the second half than that of Monday night. Progress!
Thursday 28th January – The Youth Centre Hall is perishing cold as always on arrival for Strength and Conditioning Class and this week’s focus of choosing to cherish what my body can do is fading with a more pressing desire to be stretched out on the couch in front of a blazing fire stuffing my face. It’s not long before we are all burning up with exertion though and ripping off hoodies with the heat. The floor area is set up with 5 exercise stations with 2 exercises to be performed at each station. I’m breaking out in a cold sweat at the start as Gary is demonstrating each one and wondering how long will it take before I escape over the boundary wall and pack it in out of pure contrariness! I chide myself to just suck it up and remind myself I have chosen to cherish what my body can DO this week. The first station is calf-raises while wearing resistance bands on our feet, grand at the start but burning fiercely towards the end. This is followed by leg raises while also wearing the resistance bands, with the heel of the back foot raised off the floor. Muscles are screaming! The whistle blows and I race to the second station. Here we position ourselves into a somewhat plank position but with elbows off the floor, arms straight and tap our shoulders with our hands without rotating our hips. Sounds handy. It wasn’t. I am painfully slow as am trying to stay upright and not roll over but sure I get a few done anyway. Here we also have to lie on our backs, legs up at right angles and raise a kettle-bell up and behind our heads while straightening one leg at a time. I am feeling pretty wobbly trying to race to station three. This is the exercise I am dreading the most as it looks painful and very annoying! We have to step onto these larger resistance bands and slowly pull the band up over our heads and then walk while our feet are still on the bottom of the bands. Pure. Torture. Initially I can barely get the band to stretch up past my chin, never mind get it up over my head and actually walk in it and am marvelling at this one girl in particular who just lashes on into hers and is half way across the hall now while I am still wrestling with mine. We have to do this 5-station circuit 4 times so by the last one I have it licked and can walk a few steps while still scuffling with the resistance band. Station three is eye-watering push-ups and tricep dips. The push-ups are crucifying as these are the real deal, with the arms and hands in the correct position by our sides and by Jesus I am pure crap at them! We have to slowly lower ourselves to the floor by counting to 10 and I wonder if my stomach is touching the floor way before the rest of my body is, does that count as having reached the floor?! I’d say I can count to 5 slowly and then my arms just collapse under the pressure of trying to ease myself down and just crash to the floor. Every time. Sure isn’t it something to work on so and make progress at every week. Cherish what your body can DO Mary!! The fifth and final station is running on the spot as fast as we can and then to bounce medicine balls and lift them high on catching them. Sounds easy-peasy but Good Lord it is not. I lash in to it all the same by picking a heavier ball than last week, 10 kilos, and get on with it. The girl who was earlier marching up the hall with apparent ease in the resistance band is a pure legend now, giving it all she’s got with the 12 kilo medicine ball! I am in awe of her! The hour absolutely flies by, we cool down and give ourselves a round of applause for being so savage.
Saturday 30th January – All I want to do this morning is have a rollie at the back door while reading a book and then plonk myself on the couch under a blanket and watch a movie with my boys. It’s 3 degrees out and I get to go running. I am a little grumpy, can’t find the right bra and fancy my new running hoody has shrunk in the wash as feels a little too snug now. I make sure I have a long top beneath it to cover my overhanging stomach as even though my focus is to cherish what my body can DO as opposed to what my body looks like, I could not be paid enough this morning to have this flip-flapping tummy out in public. I’d say over 40 people turn up for this cold morning run. How motivational and inspirational is that! The groups separate and head off to run different distances. I decide to stay on the track to run as am still feeling self-conscious about going out on the road with a group when I run at a woefully slower pace right now. My distance today is 10% longer than my run last week so today I am running 3.66 miles which will be my longest non-stop run in nearly 3 years. As soon as we take our first step, it starts snowing. Pure hardcore runners now out running in the snow! It feels like my bones will never warm up and I feel sluggish. It seems everyone else is running at much faster paces and my run feels like a struggle from the start. I am counting laps but lose count about half way through the run. The first half feels slow and lethargic but by the second half I am well warmed up, feeling more fluid and my hips are looser. Our coach, Gary, runs with me for a while, encouraging me to keep going and a more advanced runner, Claire, finishes my run with me which is very encouraging and kept me running strong. I love the positive attitude of Adrenaline Running Club, where more advanced runners are keeping an eye on us beginners, where no one is left behind. I am genuinely in shock to see my pace for the 3.66 miles is 12:57/mi which is showing a great improvement and progress for me. In fact, instead of my usual slowing down as the run progresses, I increased my pace as I kept running with each mile faster than the previous with times of 13:15, 12:47, and 12:16 for the first 3 full miles. I’m still slow as a turtle but making progress all the same. This time last year my pace was over 18:30/mi!! Today I truly cherish what my body can do. I feel invigorated and energised and it’s definitely a hormonal week as my eyes start to well up. True to form though, within a couple of minutes I am talking myself down with “Yeah, sure that was a pure flat run Mary! Try getting out on the real road to run with hills and see how fast you are!” I’ll find out tomorrow anyway at the Charlie Curran Memorial 5km Run.
Sunday January 31st – I wake up at 07h30 and gingerly wiggle my toes and wonder will I be able to leap out of the bed or will it be more like a roll out on to the floor. Yesterday evening and night my body was buckled with soreness and every time I tried to get up out of a chair my body had seized up with stiffness, taking a while to straighten up and walk tall. I felt like I had been run over by a bike and was seriously reconsidering on Saturday night my chances of making it to the Start Line in the morning to the 5km run.
As it turns out my night of sleep has crowned me and there isn’t a fonk on me getting out of bed. I turn up at the hurling club early and meet up with some Why Weight Ireland members who are also running today. There is a massive turn out and the atmosphere is giddy and exciting. I am relieved to have made it to the Start Line feeling pretty strong and delighted to participate in the fun of the day. I cherish the familiar electric buzz of crossing a Start Line and commit to running the entire distance, keeping my pace steady and if there are any hills to get up them without stopping. As it turns out there is only one hill and that is just before the half-way mark and I fly up it no bother, grateful for the bottle of water thrust into my hand at the top by a friendly marshall. Myself and a few other participants missed the half-way marker and it was a runner taking part in the 10km race who was on their way back let us know that we had gone too far and to turn back. I was raging!! Not because the distance would be longer but that my chipped time would be inaccurate for the 5km. I reminded myself to keep an eye on my Garmin when I would be coming close to the Finish Line so I could stop the clock at 3.1 miles (5km) to have an accurate reading for myself for progress times and so I could compare the time to previous runs in my running journal. I keep pulling at my running singlet to tuck it up a bit as I know that when it is down the full way that it is stuck to my stomach and I am paranoid about my big jiggly-jelly belly bouncing around beneath it. There is no hiding it. In the end I tell myself to cop on and just leave it alone, reminding myself to cherish what my body could DO as opposed to what it looks like. There are so many people out running and walking and the roars of encouragement between us motivates us all to keep going. I tell you, there is nothing like the exhilarating feeling of approaching the Finish Line of a run and when you finally sail over it, the incredible feelings of accomplishment that wash over you. I feel alive. I feel strong and fierce. I feel that I can do anything. I cherish what my body can do. I know that these feelings of strength and empowerment are helping me to heal and every step of every run I make is ensuring a more radiant and vibrant life for me.
My Weight Loss Update
I was hoping for a larger loss this week but I am delighted none the less with a 1.5lbs loss on the scales. At least the weight has started to come off again and slow progress is still progress. My total weight loss now is 4 stone 3lbs with about another 5 stone or so to go.
Chinese Jumbo Prawns with Wholegrain Basmati Rice
I was stuck for a meal one day recently and was due to do a grocery shop and pickings were slim so came up with this delicious and filling rice dish. My prawns were from the freezer and uncooked but would like to try this with fresh uncooked prawns at some stage. Finely chopping the vegetables is fine but I blitzed mine in the food processor to have them roughly the same size as the rice. This dish serves one at 363 calories. Enjoy!
- Fry Light Olive Oil Spray
- about 100g jumbo prawns
- 1 small carrot (about 60g), chopped
- 100g button mushrooms, chopped
- 60g broccoli, chopped
- 2 tbsp frozen peas
- 1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice Seasoning
- 2 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
- 125g cooked wholegrain basmati rice
- handful of fresh spinach
- Cook the prawns using Fry Light on a pan for a few minutes, turning once, until cooked through.
- Add the carrots, mushrooms and broccoli to the pan with a few sprays of Fry Light and cook for a few minutes.
- Add the peas and basmati rice and stir through.
- Sprinkle over the Chinese 5 Spice Seasoning and soy sauce, stir and heat through.
- Towards the end of cooking add the spinach and stir through the dish until wilted a little. Serve in a warmed bowl.